Dining: Sardi's brings the best of Peru, Greece to county
Beltsville restaurant has faithful following among local chicken lovers
Keesha D. Fox/The Gazette
Sitting down to a moist Peruvian chicken at Sardi's Pollo a la Brasa in Beltsville, Paul Colbert and his friends weren't just thinking about second helpings.
The seasoned chicken had Colbert considering investing in the eight-month-old restaurant.
"That's how good this chicken is," Colbert of Greenbelt said with a laugh.
Colbert's friends, James Fulmer of Upper Marlboro and Samuel Moore II of Cheverly, spoke longingly of the chicken, steak and shrimp that were being prepared behind the counter.
"The taste is always savory and always juicy," Moore said. "You can count on that."
Sardi's opened on Route 1 in Beltsville in August. Phillip Sardelis, who plans to open another Sardi's in Gaithersburg this summer, said his restaurant has drawn a fan base of locals who consider themselves chicken connoisseurs.
Sardelis said extensive preparation helps the chicken stand out. The secret recipe comprises 15 ingredients that add subtle flavor to the chicken, he said.
Every chicken is marinated for 48 hours and charbroiled over natural hardwood charcoal, giving it an authentic taste. The marinating ensures customers won't bite into an occasional dry piece of chicken, he said.
"What sets our chicken apart is that it's moist on the inside and crispy on the outside," said Sardelis, 36. "Other places, it tends to be dry inside. … Our chicken must be consistent, because that's what customers want. They want to come in today and have the same chicken they had last week. A lot of places, the taste differs from week to week."
Sardi's specialties include the lomo saltado ($9.95), tender steak with onions, tomatoes and french fries severed over white rice; camarones al grill ($12.95), marinated Gulf shrimp skewered and charbroiled; and the polo ever ($9.95), half a boneless chicken marinated and charbroiled, served with french fries and a salad.
Sardelis, who is Greek, included an array of Greek specialties on the menu, thanks in part to Sardelis' mother, Neseli, who makes the rice pudding ($2.55), flan ($2.95) and tzatziki sauce for Sardi's lamb, pork and chicken gyros ($6.95).
Maintaining reasonable prices, Sardelis said, has proved crucial to word-of-mouth advertising.
"Because of the economy, we want to give people their money's worth," he said. "If you spend $10, I want to give you $10 worth of food, if not $12 worth."
Fulmer sat with his friends on a recent Saturday afternoon and dug in to his mixed grill ($11.95), complete with shrimp, chicken and steak.
"The portions are so large," Fulmer said, "that you know you're always getting a good deal."
Asked if they had ever ordered dessert at Sardi's, the three Prince Georgians shook their heads no.
"The meal is the dessert, honestly," Fulmer said.
"A person wouldn't need anything else," Colbert said.
Sardi's Pollo a la Brasa
10433 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville
Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday